FCC Gets 55,000 Calls from DTV Soft Test

WASHINGTON: The nationwide DTV shut-down test conducted Thursday prompted 55,000 assistance phone calls in a single day, the FCC said today. The test was carried out yesterday by broadcasters in preparation for the final cessation of over-the-air analog television on June 12. The FCC said TV stations in 125 of the nation’s 210 designated market areas participated by briefly interrupting analog transmissions and showing a billboard with 1-888-CALL-FCC.

The FCC said that prior to the test, its help lines had received about 15,000 calls per day since May 1. The most common issue among the 55,000 calls received at the commission since yesterday involved converter boxes and reception. Of those who called, 51 percent asked for information about the fed’s $40 digital-to-analog converter coupons; 15 percent had reception concerns and 10 percent needed instructions on installing the converter boxes.

The Chicago media market generated the highest volume of calls--1,310--followed by the New York media market with 1,277 calls and the Dallas-Ft. Worth with 764 calls.

“This soft test did exactly what it was supposed to do,” said Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps. “It was a wake-up call for consumers who are unprepared, alerting them to the fact that they need to take the necessary steps before the June 12 DTV transition.”

Nielsen’s latest estimate of the unprepared stands at about 3.3 million households, or 2.9 percent of U.S. households with TVs. The commission has dropped the hammer down to get the message out that the transition is indeed going to occur June 12. – Deborah D. McAdams

(Photo by Helen Smith)